Good sister, bad sister, one last con: Spitting Gold by Carmella Lowkis #SpittingGold #NetGalley

A deliciously haunting debut for fans of Sarah Waters and Sarah Penner set in 19th-century Paris , blending gothic mystery with a captivating sapphic romance as two estranged sisters—celebrated (and fraudulent) spirit mediums—come back together for one last con. Paris, 1866. When Baroness Sylvie Devereux receives a house call from Charlotte Mothe, the sister she disowned, she fears her shady past as a spirit medium has caught up with her. But with their father ill and Charlotte unable to pay his bills, Sylvie is persuaded into one last con. Their marks are the dysfunctional aristocrats who believe they are haunted by their great aunt, brutally murdered during the French Revolution. The scheme underway, the sisters deploy every trick to terrify the family out of their gold. But when inexplicable horrors start to happen to them too, the duo question whether they really are at the mercy of a vengeful spirit. And what other deep, dark secrets may come to light?


Hi and welcome to my review of Spitting Gold!

Everything about the cover drew me to this book, and the blurb sealed the deal: I do enjoy a gothic mystery and I was excited to read one that felt very Victorian England, but in a Paris setting. I’m happy I gave in to the urge to click that request button, it really was right up my street.

Spitting Gold kicks off with a prologue set in Saint-Lazare prison and told from the POV of an anonymous woman accused of a crime the reader is yet to discover. I immediately became invested in finding out who this woman was and why she was in prison, even if she seems so very sure she’ll walk free and does not need to fear the guillotine. 

The main body of the story is set a few months earlier than the prologue and is made up of two parts: one told from the perspective of Sylvie and one her sister Charlotte’s. These sisters and their parents were once a famous and rather respected spiritist family, but then it all fell apart. Sylvie got out by marrying above her station, while Charlotte remained with her father in humbler living conditions. They haven’t spoken in ages, but now Charlotte needs her sister’s help to pull off one last con. 

While it seems obvious at first that the sisters are not real spiritists (if there is such a thing) but just excellent con artists, the narrative had me questioning that fact on numerous occasions, and it did get spooky every once in a while. 

The switch to another POV in the second part offers lots of new information and quite another mystery for the reader to get invested in. And I did get invested, even if I was reading this book when I had the attention span of a gnat because of what was going on in my own life, I became invested in these sisters’ lives, and Spitting Gold offered me some much needed reprieve.

I had a great time with Spitting Gold, and if gothic historical mysteries are your bag, I don’t doubt that you will, too. With its evocative writing and its themes of sisterhood (can’t live with her, can’t live without her), spiritualism and 19th century virtues and morals, Spitting Gold is a compelling debut that I’d happily recommend. I can’t wait to see what Carmella Lowkis does next.

Spitting Gold is out now in all formats.

Massive thanks to Doubleday Books and NetGalley for the DRC. All opinions are my own.

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